Introduction

Social care services, such as care homes, are under increasing pressure from central government to demonstrate how the care and support they provide affects people’s quality of life. The Personal Social Services Research Unit (PSSRU), at the University of Kent, has developed a toolkit to measure the aspects of quality of life that can be affected by social care – social care related quality of life (SCRQoL). The toolkit for measuring this and exploring the impact of services is called the Adult Social Care Outcomes Toolkit (ASCOT). Recently, organisations already using the ASCOT, have told us that it can do more than just produce scores. They have found it really helpful in improving care practice in some of their care homes. They used the care homes version of the toolkit to look at what life is like for care home residents. To do this, a person from another part of the organisation visited the care homes and observed residents and staff. They used the ASCOT toolkit to help them write notes about what they saw and to focus them on what is important to residents’ quality of life. The observer then met with the management and staff and gave them quite detailed feedback on what they had observed. The staff in the home were shocked by what they heard. Care staff were so busy in their roles that they never took the time to actually talk to residents or consider how bored and lonely they might be feeling. They were very good at keeping residents safe, clean and nourished but had not considered that residents would sometimes go more than two hours without anyone even speaking to them. This research study explored whether the ASCOT can be used to improve care practice in other care homes.